Artist Feature: Shaylen Broughton

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am from Richmond VA, which is also currently where I live and work from most of the time. I may or may not have a slightly unhealthy addiction to traveling. I am most definitely nomadic at heart. My major life goal is to take my art and live on the road. I have been making art since I can remember being able to hold a paintbrush or pencil. I was the kid who drew all over the walls if someone handed me a crayon. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with crazy ideas about what kind of art I could make the next day. My grandmother Grace, who was a professional portrait artist, taught me formally how to paint with oils and watercolor when I was 7, probably to stop me from making crayon art on the dining room walls.  Though art has always been my true love, I did not always feel that I would be able to make a living this way. Sadly, I think this is the case for many artists. So of course I went for a more “practical” degree in college. I obtained my BFA in Interior Design from SCAD in 2011. I quickly realized, after working in the industry for 2 years, it was not for me. So I decided to take a chance and do the thing that I actually really love, instead of what I thought I should love. Sometimes you have to do the wrong thing in order to realize where you actually want to be. It will be 3 years this March that I have been working as a full time artist.  It has been a crazy journey so far, a constant struggle, full of a lot of frustration, rejection, blood, sweat, and tears (literally I am pretty sure some of my art has my blood in it)…but worth every single second.
In your opinion, what defines an “artist”?
I think an artist is anyone who feels compelled to share their “invisible self” with the outside world. It can be through music, poetry, visual art, film, storytelling, it really doesn’t matter how it gets shared.  We all feel things. It is what makes us human.  Art reminds us we are not alone.
What inspires your work?
Nature is a big inspiration. That sounds cliché. But really it is this existence that inspires me. I have been visiting the ocean for as long as I can remember. I still look at it with childlike wonder and awe. I could spend hours watching the sunlight dance on the waves, and thinking about how incredibly vast and deep and mysterious it is. I feel the same way when I look at the sky, at the clouds, or the stars and the moon. The way the trees move in the wind. Everything Ebbs and Flows. That’s a big theme in my work.
Do you have a certain process when creating?
My process is ever-changing. I am a big fan of trying new things.  Sometimes I feel frustrated with myself because I think maybe I should be more consistent. At the same time I believe it is what makes me who I am, remaining in a constant state of flux. The one thing I do consistently is meditation. I always want the images to come purely from the heart. I do not like to overthink or plan things out. I let everything come alive as it wants to. I believe this is why I am drawn specifically to colors on a higher vibrational level, like purples and blues.
What are three things that you value the most in your work?
1-      The adventure of making, the experimenting, and the unknown.
2-      Getting to unapologetically share my heart with the world.
3-      Making connections with other likeminded artists and art lovers all over the world (Thank you internet!)
Do you have a formal background in art or are you self-taught?
Well. Yes and no. I went to an art school… and I have a design degree. I use so much of the knowledge I learned in college still in my art practice. I was also taught about formal painting from my grandmother, and had the typical high school art education where I learned the basics. However, I have learned so much along the way just working my way through stuff, figuring things out as I go. I consider myself a student of life, always. I will never claim to know it all, my mind is always open. I want to be learning new things until the day I die.
What advice would you give an aspiring artist?
Try all the things, all of them. Follow that nagging feeling, the curiosity. Find that thing that you just can’t stop doing, and then don’t stop doing that thing. Create and share. It doesn’t matter what you’re creating. Share it with your friends, share it with your family, share it on the internet, share it wherever, just share it. Art wants to be shared. It’s scary, believe me I know, but if I can do it so can you. Ask questions, get to know other artists. They are more willing to help you than you know, most of them, anyway.  This is the best advice I received from a fellow artist when I was starting out. “It is possible to make a living as an artist, it won’t be easy, not even a little bit, but it is possible.”

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